For me this was the aim of the trip, it is what I wanted to do if many different factors came into play and while I really wanted it to happen I was unsure if it would. Thankfully everything went perfectly and having made a choice on days based on the weather forecast we committed to the route and I am so glad we did as it was just such a fantastic two days as it had everything that an alpine route should have (apart from bad food at the hut!) as it had a beautiful sunrise, an amazing cloud inversion, a snow slope, a rock ridge, a sharp snow arête, great descent, glacier crossing and a different descent to ascent.
We approached the hut via the Furggstalden ‘via ferrata’ to add a bit more interest to the long ascent to the hut (almost 1000m) in the strong afternoon sunlight, it was a lovely ascent just very hot and I struggled with a very painful back due to carrying the rope and have now decided that my bag isn’t great at carrying large loads for extended periods of time. I was hugely surprised when we got to the hut as it was in stunning condition and is the nicest high mountain hut I have stayed in, combine this with the stunning setting and it was just fantastic. Previously every time I have stayed in a mountain hut the food has been somewhat questionable though the evening meal at this hut was something else as they provided us with great soup, fresh salad, chicken curry in copious quantities and pineapple for pudding!
At 4am the next morning we woke for breakfast and then made the walk up to the Zwischbergenpass in the dark with dawn starting to appear as we approached the col, as we made the last step up to the col I become lost for words as we were greeted by orange clouds in the sky and a huge cloud inversion in the valley below us while to our left we could see almost the entire route for the day. We made our way to the snow slope which was unfortunately unfrozen due to another warm night which made it fairly hard going as it was not uncommon to end up knee deep in the snow, though as we ascended thankfully the snow hardened which made progress easier, we made the start of the rock ridge pretty much bang on book time which was great though I knew that this wouldn’t last on the ridge as we were a group of four which meant that as soon as we roped up and started climbing our pace would drop significantly.
The rock scramble was fantastic and I would describe it as a slightly harder but much more serious version of the north ridge Tryfan (providing you don’t take the obvious easy route on Tryfan). There were a few moves which some of the group found slightly scary though they were short lived and in general the rock quality was great. Towards the end of the rock scramble I was looking forward to it finishing as it did go on for a bit but mainly because I was very excited about the snow arête that I knew was coming and it did not disappoint. Once we got to the top of the rock we put our crampons back on and had a small bite to eat to replenish energy supplies before continuing to the arête. The snow arête come into view and it was just fantastic, shear drops to either side for a long way down, with an inversion one way and a stunning view the other so many photos were taken from all angles before we scrambled up to the foresummit and then walked along another less severe arête to the summit of the Weissmies at 4023m.
The summit was lovely as there was no wind and there was no one else there as the previous group were leaving as we arrived, which did mean that we didn’t get a group photo but it certainly made the summit experience far more special as we sat down and ate lunch (including sandwiches!) with only two layers on, though it was starting to become fairly hazy due to 3 days of great weather and no thunderstorms or rain. Due to knowing the descent was steep I positioned myself at the back so I could hold any slips that may have occurred but also because I knew from my previous ascent of the NNW flank that the photos on the descent are stunning from the back and this time was no different.
While we were at the top I looked down to the glacier we had to cross and was horrified to see that it was still wet as last time we crossed it there was no snow on it at all so I got to see the size of all the crevasses which this time instead of being able to avoid we were going to have to walk over on some very soft snow! Though before we got there we had to deal with a very steep snow slope down to where last time there was a ladder across a crevasse but this time there was just snow and a quick crossing below the seracks which were towering above the route. The glacier crossing went largely without incident with a few jumps across obvious snow bridges and Rosie going through a snow bridge up to the top of one of her legs and I was very relieved when we got to the other side! Due to the ski lifts above Saas Grund we only had 900m of descent todo in order to get to the end of the descent before we could jump on a sku lift to take us the rest of the way down as without them long alpine descents are horrible!
I am so pleased that we managed to get todo this route and I know see why its known as the best easy alpine traverse and am already looking at where we are going to go next year and how we are going to beat the fantastic views and routes we have done this year!